On the one hand, many believe the players let the manager down once they step onto that pitch and don't perform, others blame the tactics or game preparation and put the blame squarely at the managers feet. Is it a combination of the two or perhaps off-the-field issues can affect the players as well?
It's been said thousands of time before, but the players are paid enough to perform to a consistent standard for 90 minutes, and with the exception of maybe a pending transfer, there is no reason not to put in 100% effort every game. To be honest, it's hard to argue against that. As football fans, we know the sacrifice we'd make for the glory of pulling on that shirt and turning out for the team, so many find it baffling when players under-perform.
But external factors do play on the players, regardless of the rich rewards transferred to their bank accounts at the end of each month. Possible transfer or loan rumours, fears of not getting paid, change in management, crowd pressure, a fear of making mistakes (under-confidence), and perhaps even a potential but as of yet, unconfirmed owner ranting about you in a Sunday newspaper may all affect a players ability to perform on the day, let alone family issues, personal problems and perhaps dressing room unrest and divided camps. What might seem simple to you or I as being paid for doing a great job, is a real job to the players - with all of the pressure that go with it.
Notice I used the word 'normally' in that sentence. This is Leeds United, nothing is normal.
From the outside it may seem like business as usual now McDermott has been reinstated and is running the show, but quite what is happening behind the scenes is anyone guess. Without doubt, the bosses authority has been undermined by recent events and the players will know it. Are they playing for him? Will he be here next week? Does it matter what he thinks? Are there new people coming along to 'observe' training every few days? Quite what is going on behind closed doors is anyones guess. The rumour last night that McDermott was told not to play Stewart and Kebe, possibly linked to wages indicated there could be a lot more going on behind closed doors than anyone realises.
Leeds United is in a mess, both on and off the field, and there is no doubting the instability on it, started as the instability ramped up off it. As much as it is the managers job to protect and prepare the players, the question has to be asked whether or not the manager is simply being allowed to be a manager, with the backing and authority the role requires.
I doubt anyone of us know the answer, or ever will...
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